Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Art Okuno Interview
Narrator: Art Okuno
Interviewer: Kirk Peterson
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Date: September 1, 2009
Densho ID: denshovh-oart-01-0022

<Begin Segment 22>

KP: So you went to New York and you spent, you said about a year there maybe, and then where did your, when did your parents and brother leave camp?

AO: Oh, they left and went to San Francisco, back to San Francisco. They first went to the Buddhist church where they had a hostel, stayed there. Then they eventually moved into the housing that they had at Hunter's Point for the ship workers. They had, like, like barracks there, too, but better furnished than our camp.

KP: Wouldn't take much to make it better furnishing.

AO: Right. That's true.

KP: What did your father do when he went back to San Francisco? What kind of work did he...

AO: I think he was doing housework. Go to individual homes and do whatever they wanted. Yeah.

KP: And did you return and stay with your folks when you went back to San Francisco?

AO: Yeah. Stayed for a while, then I was drafted. No, no, I, before, I went back to school to finish my BS, and then I got drafted, so after the war ended they stopped the draft so I was discharged. So I got a GI bill, went back and got my Master's in mechanical engineering.

KP: So you went back and went to Berkeley again to get your Bachelor's degree, and you were drafted out of Berkeley?

AO: Yeah. Well, yeah, Berkeley. San Francisco, Berkeley? Oh, I was working in San Francisco after graduating from school, so I was in San Francisco.

KP: And that was after the war?

AO: During the war. It wasn't ended yet. I was discharged because the draft stopped. That was when the war was over.

KP: Did you ever, were you in the military for any length of time?

AO: Yeah.

KP: How long?

AO: About a year. I was in the Army Air Force.

KP: What were you doing?

AO: I was stationed at Dayton, Ohio. It's Wright-Patterson, it was called Wright-Patterson Field.

KP: Did you have any specific duties there?

AO: Yeah, I worked with some German scientists. My major was like air conditioning and one of the problems was the transport fogged over when they were flying, so I had to find a solution for that.

KP: And that was before the war ended?

AO: Yeah, oh, yeah. I was still in the army. I had an incident there, too. When we were at Wright-Patterson a group of us, there were other engineers in our basic training, and so we went out to Dayton, Ohio because he had, one of his parents had a relative there and we went there and a lady opened the door and she saw me and she said, "You can't come in." And he, my friend said, "He's in the United States Air Force. Army Air Force. He's our friend." She said, "Nope." Says, "My relatives were in the Bataan March," you know, from the Corregidor to prison, and I guess one of her relatives was involved in that and she just couldn't accept me. So we just left.

KP: So then you went back to school after discharged?

AO: Yes, because I got free tuition.

KP: And you went on to get a Master's degree?

AO: Yeah.

KP: Where did you go?

AO: Berkeley.

KP: And what was your Master's degree in?

AO: Mechanical engineering. Then I worked for NASA.

KP: What did you do for NASA?

AO: I was an aerospace engineer. My branch was called the fluid dynamics. Flow of air or airfoil type of thing.

KP: Any projects you worked on that stand out?

AO: Yeah, worked on some of the pre shuttle heating. I was a heating and air conditioning major, so the wing tips get very hot when they're entering or even leaving and I worked on that project, just to get the data so they could pad it, put the tiles on.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2009 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.